From this article: http://www.ipm.ac.ir/IPM/news/connes-interview.pdf Around pages #32-33 he makes the following comments: GBK You were criticizing the US way of doing research and approach to science but they have been very successful too, right? You have to work hard to get tenure, and research grants. Their system is very unified in the sense they have very few institutes like Institute for Advanced Studies but otherwise the system is modeled after universities. So you become first an assistant professor and so on. You are always worried about your raise but in spite of all these hazards the system is working. C I don’t really agree. The system does not function as a closed system. The US are successful mostly because they import very bright scientists from abroad. For instance they have imported all of the Russian mathematicians at some point. GBK But the system is big enough to accommodate all these people this is also a good point. 31 C If the Soviet Union had not collapsed there would still be a great school of mathematics there with no pressure for money, no grants and they would be more successful than the US. In some sense once they migrated in the US they survived and did very well but I believed they would have bloomed better if not transplanted. By doing well they give the appearance that the US system is very successful but it is not on it’s own by any means. The constant pressure for producing reduces the “time unit” of most young people there. Beginners have little choice but to find an adviser that is sociologically well implanted (so that at a later stage he or she will be able to write the relevant recommendation letters and get a position for the student) and then write a technical thesis showing that they have good muscles, and all this in a limited amount of time which prevents them from learning stuff that requires several years of hard work. We badly need good technicians, of course, but it is only a fraction of what generates progress in research. It reminds me of an anecdote about Andre Weil who at some point had some problems with elliptic operators so he invited a great expert in the field and he gave him the problem. The expert sat at the kitchen table and solved the problem after several hours. To thank him, Andre Weil said “when I have a problem with electricity I call an electrician, when I have a problem with ellipticity I use an elliptician”. From my point of view the actual system in the US really discourages people who are truly original thinkers, which often goes with a slow maturation at the technical level. Also the way the young people get their position on the market creates “feudalities” namely a few fields well implanted in key universities which reproduce themselves leaving no room for new fields. 32 GBK In the US there are so many mathematicians. Their system produces about 1200 new PhD’s a year. C And they can’t find a position unless they belong to a field with the stamp of approval. GBK This is massive! astronomical! C But the problem is that whether or not they will find a position depends on whom will write their recommendation letters. I am not saying what kind of letter they will get since all these letters look alike in their emphatic style. The result is that there are very few subjects which are emphasized and keep producing students and of course this does not create the right conditions for new fields to emerge. At least in France, if you have a position in CNRS you are allowed to do whatever you want and people are given the maximum freedom of thinking without any unhealthy social pressure to work in this or that field if one wants to secure one’s future! What do you guys think about this? I personally think Alain Connes brings up some good points. But what other system is there? Alain Connes is fortunate to have a job where he only teaches 18 hours a year. Him and only 3 other mathematicians have this kind of position at College de Frances (I believe Serre, Yoccoz, and another famous mathematician). I guess the analogous institution in America would be the IAS near Princeton. Alain Connes is also a Fields Medalist and can pretty much get what he wants in terms of a job and or teaching hours.